Metrosexual Sales On The Increase

In 1994, journalist Mark Simpson coined the term ''metrosexual'' to define the urban, fashion-conscious young man and, with sales of cosmetics and beauty products for men continually rising, there seem to be more metrosexuals now than ever.

'' More than four in five consumers agree that, today, men are more interested in personal grooming than they used to be,'' a recent global survey conducted by Nielson reports.

'' Metrosexuals who spend time and money on looking good were perfectly okay for close to four in five consumers globally, getting the big thumbs up from New Zealanders (92%), Danes and South Africans (91%), Chinese and French (90%),'' the survey says.

Well, if Tony Blair can admit to spending more than 1800 pounds (NZ$5167) on cosmetics over six years, perhaps the trend is increasing.

As of 2005, Menaji Skin Care a male only cosmetic brand which boasts Al Gore, Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Elton John among its clients which enjoyed a year-on-year growth of 60% since its foundation in 2000.

Other cosmetic houses like Nivea, L'Oreal, Clinique and Clarins have also seen the market potential and developed products specifically for men. And Jean Paul Gaultier's Tout Beau Tout Propre male make-up range launched in 2003 included nail varnish, lipstick, and eyeliner pencil and artificial blushes.

So what do Kiwi men think?

'' Men are definitely buying more and more cosmetics and don't have any inhibitions about buying them,'' Sheridan Lowry, retail manager at Life Pharmacy Queensgate in Lower Hutt says.'' They certainly don't feel embarrassed about standing in front of a cosmetics counter and choosing the products, as they might've a few years ago.'' Even builders are now buying moisturisers with an SPF15, she says.

'' Women used to buy cosmetic products for their male partners, but the trend is changing and more men are coming in to purchase the products themselves,'' Nicky McKay, retail assistant at Unichem on Broadway, Newmarket, says. '' Men are becoming more aware of their looks and learning about things like cleansing and moisturising,'' Nicky says.

Julie Ghinis, retail manager at Herne Bay Pharmacy agrees. '' We have noticed a lot more men buying cosmetics. L'Oreal Men Expertise is probably the biggest seller. Sometimes a man will come in to get a prescription filled and notice a display and end up buying a few products. It's an awareness thing, and men are definitely becoming more aware,'' Julie says.

Cleansers and moisturisers are one thing, but make-up for men?

'' Presently we do not have any Clarins makeup which is specifically for men; however, our tinted moisturisers are very popular,'' Genelle Holton, sales and marketing coordinator for the luxury division at BDM Grange, says.
''A few years ago we did stock a few bronzer and foundation products for men, but they weren't very popular, we're not looking at restocking them at this point'' Sheridan says. '' Thin Lizzy is popular with our male customers, we sell about one a month to a man who wants to even out his skin tone,'' Nicky says. However, all pharmacies are not the same. Mark Lee, co-owner of Sun City Unichem Pharmacy in Gisborne, says his pharmacy is being offered an increasing range of men's cosmetics solutions, ''from cheap to mid-market to premium brands like Clarins and Shiseido''. But there is not a corresponding uptake in sales to customers, he says. '' Indeed, we would comment that the majority of these items are sold at Christmas and are bought by women. The recipients of the gifts do not then seem to come back in store to replenish,'' Mark says.

It seems, as it becomes more socially acceptable for men, of all sexual orientation, to take an interest in skincare and looking good, the more developed the metrosexual will become.


While the popularity of cosmetics for men seems to be on the rise globally, it is no more apparent than in Japan.

'' The numbers are still relatively few, but those men who see fashion and make-up as a part of self-expression are growing. There are more and more men's cosmetics brands and the most interesting right now is in men's skin care,'' Sakae Nonomura, director of the Beauty Research Institute at Kanebo Cosmetics says.

An obsession with ''kawaii'', or cute, has dominated Japanese popular culture for 40 years. And, in recent years, ''kawaii'' has been applied to men, emphasising pretty, youthful looks with the help of cosmetics, he says.

Japan has a male cosmetic market that accounts for nearly one-fifth of men's cosmetics globally and sales of men's skincare have surged in the past few years, growing an average 13% per year, according to Mandom, Japan's second biggest cosmetics maker after Shiseido.

'' Right now, the emphasis is on pretty and nice, delicate men are in style,'' Mayu Shimokawa chief manager of product promotions at Mandom says.

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